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New York City pension funds to vote against Wal-Mart directors

May 01, 2012|By Shan Li
  • A Wal-Mart sign overlooks the parking lot of a store in Mexico City.
A Wal-Mart sign overlooks the parking lot of a store in Mexico City. (Daniel Aguilar / Getty Images )

One more piece of bad news for Wal-Mart Stores Inc.: A group of New York City pension funds, alarmed over allegations of widespread bribery by company officials in Mexico, said they would vote against reelecting five Wal-Mart directors.

The pension officials plan to wield their 4.7 million Wal-Mart shares (and votes) next month at the retail giant's annual shareholders meeting to oust directors who had failed to provide adequate legal oversight over the company's vast operations, according to the New York Times.

Last week, the newspaper reported that Wal-Mart shut down an investigation into alleged bribery in its Mexico operations, where $24 million reportedly exchanged hands in order to speed the approval of new Wal-Mart stores in the country.

New York City comptroller John Liu, who is also trustee of the pension funds, said the retailer has a history of regulatory and legal problems, including reports of child labor violations that surfaced in 2005.

“In its relentless drive for profit and expansion, Wal-Mart has paid millions to settle charges that it violated child labor laws and exploited immigrants,” Liu told the New York Times on Monday. “Now we learn that not only did Wal-Mart allegedly bribe its way through Mexico, but may have tried to cover up the corruption. A select few Wal-Mart executives may benefit in the short term, but the company, its share owners and everyone else lose in the long run.”

The funds plan to vote against Chief Executive Michael Duke, former CEO H. Lee Scott Jr., ChairmanS. Robson Walton, Christopher Williams and Arne Sorenson.

The pension funds control a fraction of the overall shares, however, making it unlikely they will prevail unless other investors join them.


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